In Defense of Lifestyle Blogging


"Their online lives are primary-coloured blurs of Hipstamatic-captured perfection – baby Eleanor never seems to cry, their dog Kingsley wouldn't be out of place at Crufts, and doe-eyed, immaculately dressed Naomi and Josh are unceasingly happy. It's saccharin sweet and utterly addictive – like reality TV, but with cupcakes."
Jenny Stevens, Over-Sharing 2.0: the Rise of Couple Blogging. The Guardian.

It's not hard to see that Couple Blogs are disconnected from the "reality" that I - and Ms. Stevens - experience on a daily basis.  The bloggers mentioned in the article are surely better looking and better dressed than I am. They don't seem impacted by the recession, and they have access to heath care. They make no mention of politics. And, all they ever talk about is their practically perfect lives!

Well, duh. A Couple Blog is the online equivalent of the family letters you receive at Christmas time detailing the victories of little Tommy on the football field. Except this one shows up in Google Reader on a daily basis. Every cute outfit, every yummy cupcake - it's all there, online.

But to ask for something else from any one lifestyle blog (or even a particular genre of lifestyle blog) is to have a basic misunderstanding of the new media form you are criticizing.

The greatest asset of blogging over traditional forms of media is that it allows for truly multitudinous voices in the marketplace.

For financial reasons, traditional media outlets can only support a finite number of publications in any one form. Even large markets can only support one local newspaper. Because of this, newspapers have a duty to be fair and to represent many voices (in the form of diverse columnists) or no voice at all (in non-biased news reporting).

But a blog is not a newspaper. Unlike traditional outlets, there is no limit on the number of blogs that can be written or accessed in the community. In fact when an individual talks about reading digital content they say "I read blogs". The statement is plural. Always. Over a dozen technologies exist to bookmark and organize the variety of online publications that one person reads on a daily basis.

The word "blogging" itself both refers to reading and producing digital content. There isn't a blog writer alive who doesn't also read blogs. "To blog" means to read, draw from, comment on, and write self published work on the internet. It is an interactive technology, that thrives on and requires innumerable points of view.
This is what brings me to the defense of Naomi and Sally, and any person who has push-button published a blog post.

Newspapers have a duty. They are a single outlet that serves an entire, diverse community in which there was (until the invention of the internet) few alternatives.

Lifestyle blogs do not. An individual lifestyle blogger has no responsibility to provide any viewpoint other than their own. The wealth of sources in the blogging world allows for the luxury of a single outlet presenting a single viewpoint.

Accuracy is a non-issue. We all write our own truth. And if you don't like the truth presented, don't read it. There are 150 million other blogs to choose from.


Do you read Couple Blogs? Do they make you believe in love or are they just too twee?
(I welcome your thoughts and differing opinions! But, anything nasty or mean will be deleted.)
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17 comments:

  1. I agree with you. Like newspapers report the "truth"? Come ON! Media is so full of fallacies designed to present one side of any situation, and we're expected to swallow it all, hook, like and sinker. My dad taught me to look with my own eyes, listen with my own ears, and speak my own truth. We only truly have our own perspective, right?

    I'm fine with couples' blogs showing whatever they like about their perfect lives. I can choose to read it or not. I prefer the voices of all my blogger buddies out there, saying what they think, doing their own thing, and making no claims (like popular media) that they're telling the One Truth. We're all real people out here in the Blogosphere. We're just trying to make connections, and share what we have to offer. People can follow or not, ignore or not. That's the beauty of it, right?

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  2. I completely agree with you, Sam. I actually have a blog that I send out to a group on Facebook every week (I’ll send it to you too, if you want), and in one entry, I simply admitted the joy of reading blogs with my cup of coffee (as I’m doing now). I then listed about six of my favorites (yours included!) that enrich my life. Even Facebook enriches my life. Computer-based media may be making other forms of news obsolete, but that’s the way of the world! And yes, agreeing with the blogger above, news is simply new news- not truth! I think there is a smart way to be informed though. And I’m still trying to figure it out. It can’t be THAT beneficial for me to be looking at cute wedding invitations and drooled over kitchen designs on pininterest.com first thing in the morning.

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  3. Sorry, pinterest.com (I always add that extra "i")

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  4. shari : Right! And, being a conscientious consumer of media is the most important thing. Your Dad is a smart man.

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  5. Kate : I think "life enriching" is such a great way to put it. There is so much to gain from people sharing their own daily realities.

    Please send me a link to your blog, I would love to read it!

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  6. I agree with Kate - "life enriching" is the best part of being a blogger. It's putting out positive energy, sharing the best parts of our lives and encouraging others to do the same. Sometimes yes, I look at bloggers and think... what is it we don't know about them? I think as a writer I tend to want to know what is lying beneath it all. But, what they choose not to share is a personal choice, one I respect because I make those same choices every day. Mainstream media is always looking for the dirt, and spreading it around for everyone to roll around in. There's no respect for the choices people make to protect those parts that the public doesn't need to know about, as evidenced by Miss Stevens. Thanks for sharing this. Solidarity, my blogging friends!

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  7. Bethany : that is such a great point. Tabloid culture really has encouraged us to seek scandal, and revel when things don't go right for other people.

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  8. I have tried to write about this, but to little avail. As a graduate student of English, I feel this need to justify what I read outside of the realm of criticism and literary fiction. I really agree with what you say here, particularly in that the option one gains with blogs is the simple ability to read something else. I like the idea of blogging because it's truly accessible. Yes, the socioeconomic background of most bloggers is similar, but then, they are only talking about things in their realm of experience most of the time. Perhaps it is often overly idealized; I'll admit that much. My own blog shows this, as I mostly write about the good things in my life and the things that may actually interest readers. But I do this consciously, with the purpose of focusing on those good things because they ARE meaningful. They are not the whole story, but they are part of it. Most writers of "couple blogs" and other such sites are consciously leaving out parts of their lives because that's not their purpose. They are generally aware of this fact--almost every blogger I've followed has acknowledged it at some point.
    Besides, any sort of writing or opinion is limited. As much as I love the written word and studying it, writing will never capture life fully. It can only gesture at it, sometimes more thoroughly than others. To marginalize one type of writing for doing this is intellectually dishonest.

    I should acknowledge that a) I'm married, b) I blog, and c) I have health insurance and a comfortable middle class background, so perhaps my perspective arises out of a little bias. But I'm telling that right now, so if it matters to someone, he or she can disregard my opinion, and if it doesn't matter, a person can agree or disagree with me, which is exactly how it works with "couple blogging." A person may write and tell what their life is like, and readers may disregard their opinions/lifestyle or pay attention, then agree or disagree. The choice is truly in the hands of the reader.

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  9. I don't know how I got here..I was just clicking away trying to find new blogs to explore and I happened upon yours. I have to tell you that I am pleased beyond words that I found your blog and find it immeasurably ironic that on the day I chose to change the feel and direction of my own blog, this is post I find on yours. For almost two years my posts have been filled with sappy sweet words and pictures. I chose to show that side of my life but have recently felt I need more, I want to say more. We are lucky that there are millions of blogs to read, each with different content, that we can pick and choose what to read. If you don't like what you see, don't read it...
    I poured another cup of coffee and read your blog back to the first post and enjoyed every one. I feel very inspired and content now with my choice to change my blog from a lifestyle blog to a 'life' blog.
    Sarah :)

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  10. Katie : It's one of the things I've learned most from blogging. These little things, the nonacademic ones, aren't frivolous. Like you said - "They ARE meaningful"

    Sarah : Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I've gained so much insight from blogs that it's nice to give a little back every once in a while

    & I find things on the internet serendipitously too sometimes (it's such a good feeling)!

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  11. fantastic, you've basically summed up my own opinion about this issue. I really have nothing constructive to add, but I will say, this post rocks.

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  12. hila : coming from you, I will carry that with me all day. Thanks!

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  13. oh wow. what an attack on the rockstar diaries. i mean, i think the article makes a valid point that certain blogs (naomi's included), focuses on only the positive aspects of life--but isnt that okay? i mean there are lots of other "couple" blogs that aren't so sugar coated and spiffy. sweetfineday is a great example. ultimately i think the phenomenon of the "blog" is just a really great way for artists and creative professionals to have a little extra source of income. so what if they make us want to be them, lol. they do typically tend to be more fashionable than the average reader (they're artists, its their job), and the mystique of the creative has always seemed to capture the attention of the "conventional" public throughout history.

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  14. Kimia : that's was another part of that article that bothered me. It was just downright mean!

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  15. I'm a little late commenting on this, but I have to say that doesn't everyone want to show the best to the world out there? Single people, families, couples, businesses--they all blog to connect with people, and no one wants to connect with someone who doesn't uplift their life. So keep on showing me what you love about your life, and guess what? I'll probably keep looking for more things to love in mine.

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Thank you so much for commenting, Darling Reader! I read + love each and every one of them. (Anonymous commenting has been turned off due to robots)

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